Category Archives: Kurdistan Region

The liberation of Mosul rest on the Kurds

If the liberation of Ramadi, Tikrit, Sinjar and more recently Manbij in Syria proved painful and tricky leading to streams of refugees, then Mosul will prove much worse.

Islamic State (IS) has held Mosul for over two years. If the liberation was anything other than bloody and complicated, then it would not have taken months of planning.

The battle for Mosul raises more questions than answers for Baghdad. IS would not have rolled into Mosul with such ease if it did not have support of some locals and various other armed Sunni groups. Without addressing the sectarian discord that plagued Mosul and Sunni heartlands long before IS was even established, the post-liberation of Mosul will provide much trickier to manoeuvre.

Then there is the thousands of civilians that will flee the city, mostly like to the relative safety of Kurdistan. Kurdistan already houses 1.8 million internally displaces persons at a great financial burden that mostly goes unnoticed.

The Iraqi Defence Minister Khalid Obeidi recently warned that the Iraqi government will not allow the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to liberate the city of Mosul. This was compounded by threats from Shia Popular Mobilization Units for Kurdish forces not to enter Mosul.

Ironically, the Shiite militias are likely to play a more effective role than the actual Iraqi army in any battle for Mosul. If Peshmerga are deemed as too sensitive to be deployed within the mainly Sunni city, then the presence of these militias will hardly soothe sectarian tensions. At least, there is a large population of Kurds in Mosul.

For all these warnings, there is no way that Mosul can be liberated without the support of the Peshmerga regardless of any coalition firepower. This was acknowledged by Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, who stated that Mosul operations without the Peshmerga will be impossible. However, Barzani stressed that “they will have supportive role but will not enter the city”.

The importance of the Peshmerga is not lost on the United States who relies heavily on the Kurdish forces. This culminated in a recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between US and Kurdish officials in recent weeks that included provisions of military support to the Peshmerga forces.

Too often US has tip-toed around Baghdad when dealing with the Kurds due to political sensitivities but with the huge sacrifices of the Peshmerga, their critical role both now and the future and the much changed socio-political landscape in Iraq across the Middle East, the Kurds must be dealt with in their own right.

It’s disrespectful to Kurdish sacrifices to deal with Kurdistan through Baghdad when both zones are separated from each other and the Kurds have been all bu

Separating the right of Kurdish independence from the right regional, political or economic climate

If an ethnic group ever deserved an award for patience and perseverance then it is the Kurds. Still the largest nation without a state, the Kurds are told to bide their time for independence or worse are threatened by its consequences.

One hundred years have passed since the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement and it is approaching the centenial of the respective Treaties of Sevres and Lausanne.  The truth is, Kurdistan may be embroiled in a valiant battle against the Islamic State (IS) today and in many ways carry the global fight against the group, but their struggle for existence and freedom is nothing new.

Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani announced plans to hold a referendum as far back as July 2014 when Iraqi forces rapidly collapsed under IS attacks. This intention was renewed with repeated plans to hold a referendum by end of 2016.

Skeptics point to the difficult fight against IS, Kurdistan’s economic crisis, retaliation from neighboring powers, the instability engulfing the rest of Iraq and so on.

However, if Kurdistan ties its independence to a perfect moment in Iraq and the Middle East then independence will remain a distant dream. The Kurds must not equate their right of independence with a perfect regional, political or economic climate.

If independence was based on buy-in from all sides, a flourishing economy and a perfect democratic and social system, then dozens of sovereign countries would not exist today. On the contrary, independence will give the Kurds a strong hand to dictate fiscal matters such as devaluing their currency, printing money and borrowing from international markets.

Moreover, the independence of Kurdistan should not be a piecemeal measure.  Even Saddam Hussein was willing to give the Kurds substantial autonomy with the exception of Kirkuk.

Kurdistan should declare independence and a referendum is the right and legal platform. As governed by United Nations charters, the voice of the people in deciding their fate is vital. Many nations have declared their independence in such a manner and the fate of many disputed cities has been resolved via plebiscites.

Abandoning the legal notion of self-determination and asking permission from Western powers, Ankara, Baghdad, and Tehran is a sure path to failure.

The Kurds have suffered under the hands of such governments and struggled for even basic rights, why should the fate of millions of Kurds and a legal right be placed in their hands once more?

Kurdistan has a rich array of ethnicities and religions. Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmen, Shabaks, Yezidis and Christians have enjoyed a historical foothold in these lands. This very coexistence should be heralded across the West and serve as a model of co-existence across the Middle East.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

 

The implications of the PUK-Gorran deal on the Kurdistan political scene

The recent agreement between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Movement (Gorran) serves to shake up the Kurdish political scene from a number of angles.

The once unthinkable deal was declared a win-win by both sides but highlighted the difficult state of Kurdish politics as it traverses through a highly sensitive juncture in its history.

Gorran broke away from the PUK in 2009 and this new agreement feels more like a reunion after a bitter divorce. Gorran’s rise was all about shaking up the political scene and promoting a populist agenda that sought to the break duopoly in Kurdistan.

But although Gorran commands a respectable number of seats in parliament (24), it has witnessed the limitations of populist movements and working in the shadows of KDP-PUK. Gorran has limited influence over the things that really matter such as security, foreign relations and finances.

PUK on other hand has been navigating through its own crisis in recent years especially in light of embarrassing ballot defeats to Gorran and a leadership crisis as their long-time leader Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.

PUK was essentially been carried by the KDP and thus it’s traditional counter-weight role to the KDP was lost.

The KDP have been uncontested leaders of Kurdistan political scene ever since PUK went to decline and Gorran, although a popular party could do little more than work as an opposition force and a nuisance in parliament.

Therefore, it was unsurprising that the PUK-Gorran deal was met with great skepticism by the KDP. They see it as a union to undermine their strong hand in Kurdish affairs.

As the PUK and Gorran vowed to enter the 2017 elections on the same ballot, it simultaneously ends the old strategic alliance between the PUK and KDP. The KDP currently holds 38 seats in parliament as opposed to Gorran which has 24 and PUK 18. In other words, PUK-Gorran alliance would become the biggest bloc, unleashing a scramble for seats from Islamic Parties.

The Islamic Parties find themselves in a strong position as wild-cards. They will insist on range of demands and then have the task of choosing either the KDP or PUK-Gorran.

The PUK-Gorran deal will inevitably serve to dilute KDP influence and grip on Kurdish affairs but things in Kurdistan are never that easy. The KDP will play its own strategic cards in face of the changing political scene.

Whilst the PUK-Gorran deal will help break the current political deadlock in one way or another, it also threatens to intensify the old dividing lines between KDP and PUK administrations and stoke a new phase of disunity.

At the same time, such disunity will open the doors for Turkey, Iran and other powers to take advantage through meddling in economic, military and strategic ties.

Either way, the matter should not be about what is best for KDP, PUK or Gorran. This is not merely a game between political parties for the top positions or score settling between the respective party leaders.

It ultimately has to benefit the Kurdish people and that of Kurdistan. Anything less than, will serve as a great setback to Kurdistan at a sensitive stage in its history.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

Erbil Deserves Equal Focus as Baghdad

As Iraq continued to make slow but steady gains against the Islamic State (IS), politicians were equally busy with scuffling and fighting of their own in parliament as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s reform drive continued to hit obstacles.

Abadi’s proposed cabinet reshuffle and reform plan, after weeks of protests led by influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr over corruption, lack of public services and a gloomy economic picture, has been met with fierce resistance. A plan for a government of technocrats to replace party-affiliated minister is great in theory but impossible in practice in the complicated landscape that is Iraq.

Are these relatively unknown technocrats, who lack any real clout or influence, really going to sway dominant parties who rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds?

More importantly, the great focus of the U.N. and international powers on Baghdad’s struggles by promoting stability and providing significant military aid and financial assistance merely ignores the equally difficult plight of the Kurdistan Region.

Whilst the region may not have experienced the same social unrest or public protests seen in the rest of Iraq, Kurdistan has been operating under great constraints for over 2 years. If the dramatic decline of oil prices hit Baghdad hard then this is only amplified for Kurdistan where budget payments were already frozen by Baghdad putting pressure on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) long before IS arrived on the scene, refugees arrived in droves and oil prices tumbled.

Erbil’s fight against IS is no less significant than Baghdad’s, and the West should not just respond to whoever creates the biggest social or political commotion.

Kurdistan deserves an entitlement of all aid provided to Baghdad including its own financial assistance package from the international community.

If Baghdad has limited cards at its disposal to turn the economy around, then the KRG has a much tougher hand to work with. For example, the KRG cannot control value of the Iraqi currency or raise debts on financial markets.

Of course, the urgent need for financial assistance in Kurdistan should not mask the need to continue its reform drive. The economy is overly reliant on oil revenues, there is a lack of a tax regime, there a need for greater transparency and far too much of the population relies directly on government salaries.

The Peshmerga, who are at the heart of the coalition war on IS, do not receive salaries in months as with much of the population. If this scenario was mirrored in the U.S. or E.U., there would be great chaos and unrest.

The Kurdish population has been fairly resilient so far, but patience when families are affected so deeply, can only stretch so far.

KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani recently urged for coalition partners to provide budgetary support, warning that the crisis facing the region had made it one of the “most vulnerable entities in the coalition.”

Which government in the E.U. would not suffer if they had over million refugees to support, crippling revenue streams, insufficient international support and a war on its door step?

The crisis is bound to impact the fight against IS and the current cycle cannot continue.

Talabani stressed that reform measures had cut the monthly deficit to $100 million, but further support was now needed. “It’s important for our friends around the world to realize that this threat facing Kurdistan … is real and without immediate direct support the experiment of Kurdistan is in danger,” warned Talabani.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

Rise in oil prices should not mask economic cracks and need for reform in Kurdistan

Oil is the paradoxical treasure and curse. For oil producing countries, exporting oil at a high price normally results in revenue windfalls with enough to assemble large cash reserves.

But this is where the oil curse strikes. It becomes too easy to rely on your immense oil reserves as a simple and effective source of income. But when prices plummet as they have done in recent months, hardship strikes, economic woes kick-in, budget deficits are rife and social upheaval inevitably settles in as the economy goes in decline.

All oil producing countries have felt the bite in falling oil prices, even Saudi Arabia with its huge cash reserves is suddenly feeling the pinch. But for Kurdistan, the economic bite from falling oil prices was much sterner for a number of reasons.

The region was already struggling to pay salaries, even before the decline in oil prices, as Baghdad froze budget payments. Add a fierce war with the Islamic State (IS) that has dragged on for almost 2 years and 1.8 million refugees into the mix and the situation becomes even more fraught.

To compound matters, any attack on its oil pipeline through Turkey quickly leads to an even bigger crisis.

Oil exposes cracks in economies and Kurdistan is no different. Heavily reliance on oil revenues has crippled the region and any country whose fortunes are merely dependent on the spot price of oil is bound to be gripped by turbulence, instability and lose control of its destiny.

So what happens when oil prices begin climb as they inevitably do when they have bottomed out? Oil prices have climbed from 12 year lows to just over $40 a barrel in recent weeks. As welcome as the rise may seem, does Kurdistan breath a huge sigh of relief and look forward to brighter times again or does it truly address the numerous economic cracks that the decline in oil prices have exposed?

Simply put, an ambitious Kurdistan with eyes on independence needs wide economic reforms. Any rise in oil prices should not transform the horizon as the stability and welfare of any country, particularly one surrounded by so much regional fire and volatility, should never be tied to a daily commodity chart that can radically swing.

Kurdistan needs to divest its economy and source of revenues. The overwhelmingly reliance on the population for government salaries is untenable even if the oil prices reach new heights and there needs to be a sustained drive towards self-sufficiency.

When oil prices were high and economy activity was in full swing, the countryside slowly emptied and the cities became more crowded. Kurdistan has a strong reliance on imports for basic goods and its agriculture sector, the bread basket of any economy, needs to be urgently bolstered.

Oil will no doubt remain a key source of revenues for Kurdistan and further declines in economy based on any future drop in oil price is inevitable but by taking new economic reforms, the region will have a much better cushion to ride out the storms.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

Kurds omitted from Geneva III as US and Russian jockey to build bases in Syrian Kurdish territory

As the Syrian war enters its 6th year, months of preparation to cultivate another round of negotiations between Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition could still unravel.

Just days before the talks were due to commence, there is fervent debate on who should attend the talks as well as various other pre-conditions still been set.

The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) that was created in December after a Syrian opposition conference in Riyadh is deemed by Saudi Arabia and Turkey as the only representatives of the opposition.

The age-old problem in Syria’s brutal war is deciding who the opposition is, with literally dozens of groups and just who are the moderates.

Russia has been jockeying for involvement of other Syrian opposition parties that are aligned to their strategy and that the HNC deems as too close to the regime.

But of all the groups, the omission of the Syrian Kurds led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is the most controversial. The PYD and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), have proved to be the most effective fighting force on the ground and have made steady gains against the Islamic State (IS).

The Syrian Kurds have been heavily backed under the cover of United States warplanes and are the only group that both the U.S. and Russia can agree on.

Turkey has been ever suspicious of the rising stock of the Syrian Kurds and the ramifications of their increased autonomy.

In recent days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeated warnings that they will not tolerate any expansion of Kurdish territory west of the Euphrates and deem PYD as no different to IS or the PKK.

And this is where the contradictions intensify. The remaining IS corridor to the Turkish border can be easily sealed with coalition support and YPG forces. But for an anxious Turkey facing a renewed Kurdish war at home, IS still remains a more manageable entity than Syrian Kurds assuming most of its southern border.

In parallel to the Syrian Kurds facing the reality of no invitation to Geneva III, there have been widespread rumors in recent days that U.S. has been working to expand a disused former airbase in Rmelian, Hassaka, in the heart of Kurdish territory and in close proximity to Turkey and Iraq.

Whilst the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has stated it ‘has not taken control of any airfield in Syria’, other statements were not as definitive as a spokesman for the US Department of Defence said its small team in Syria needed “occasional logistical support”.

Either way, for a concerted move on Raqqa and even Mosul, opposition forces need greater logistical support from the U.S. led coalition than the usual airdrops.

If Ankara was feeling unease with the U.S. reports, then similar reports of Russian troops and a team of engineers in Qamishli looking to expand the airport and build a Russian base there would hardly have helped.

Whilst the US has tip-toed around both its key allies in Turkey and the Syrian Kurds, Russia does not have this problem and after relations nosedived with the downing of a Russian jet in November by Turkey, the Syrian Kurds remain a vital card for Moscow.

Any notion of a Russian military base in Kurdish territory would send a strong warning to Turkey.

It remains to be seen if PYD will attend the peace talks. Both the HNC and Turkey have insisted that if PYD does join, then it would be on the side of the regime. Turkey has even threatened to boycott the talks if PYD becomes part of the “official” opposition.

The differing stances of the Syrian Arab opposition, U.S., Russia and Turkey towards the Kurds will create another time-bomb if the Syrian Kurds are side-lined. Even if elusive peace is achieved, what then for the Syrian Kurds? Do you disregard their strategic importance against IS? Or do you even take moves to take away their autonomy or not include them in a future political framework?

With so many opposition groups and as many ideals and goals, and the crucial Kurdish position, Syrian troubles will continue long after Assad is gone.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

The Allies Must Help Kurdistan in Economic Downturn

With plunging oil prices, fight against Islamic State and thousands of refugees, allies must support Kurdistan but financial aid should be coupled with reforms

Oil is a black gold that all is too great when prices are sky-high. It can easily balance the national budgets of many a country. At the same time, an inefficient and unbalanced economy can be easily papered over with the huge windfall from oil revenues.

The oil honeymoon of recent years when prices were at record highs is now replaced by rattled markets and oil based economies who have continuously revised down expectations of the floor in oil prices.

Even low-level estimates of $45 USD a barrel priced in for many 2016 national budgets is been rapidly revised with current prices of $30 USD a barrel.

The ramifications of the oil price drop can be felt across the Middle East but none more so than the Kurdistan Region. Kurdistan was already feeling the burden of financial constraints in 2014 as Baghdad halted budget payments. The first half of 2015 was hardly much better as budget disputes with Baghdad meant that Kurdistan was left with no choice but to resume independent oil exports.

But this isn’t any normal economic crisis. The financial crisis has intensified at a delicate and unprecedented juncture for the region. Kurdistan is at the heart of a vicious war with the Islamic State (IS) that naturally warrants significant expenses in addition to catering for 1.8 million refugees and internally displaces persons that need food, medicine and shelter.

Simply put, the Kurdistan revenues are insufficient to cater for refugees, Peshmerga, military equipment and supplies and public wages with the majority of the people directly relying on salaries from the government.

The current revenues are largely from oil sales but one must not forget that this oil is not been pumped for free. The International Oil Companies operating in the region under already tight financial regimes must be paid.

An obvious solution is of course to pump more oil, but since prices have continued to tumble, this is hardly a rewarding ploy and at the same times the upgraded infrastructure to do this costs significant money.

All these factors point to an unsustainable situation for the region. The economic cloud should not mask the need for economic reforms, decreasing the heavy reliance on oil revenues, tightening of budgets, implementing new tax reforms, reducing the high dependence on imports and of course addressing the heavy reliance on the state for salaries.

However, the current situation is simply unmanageable and Kurdistan needs to be supported by the United States and its key allies at this difficult juncture. Iraq, with its own financial conundrums, can hardly be relied on or trusted to come to the aid of the Kurds.

Kurdistan cannot ignore 1.8 million refugees nor can it lighten its burden against IS. Kurdistan must be given the credit it deserves at the forefront of the coalition fight to oust IS from Iraq and Syria.

It must be given the military aid and financial assistance required to shore up its finances but at the same time must embark on an extensive economic reform programme of its own to safeguard and own its destiny.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

As Kurds celebrate liberation of Sinjar, mass terror attacks in Paris show Kurdish battle against Islamic State is on behalf of entire Europe

As the Peshmerga triumphantly routed Islamic State (IS) from Sinjar, in an operation personally overseen by Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, the process of healing for the Yezidi community can finally begin.

Sinjar symbolized the terror of IS as they swept through large swathes of Iraq and committed genocide against the Yezidi population that will forever taint hearts and minds in this region.

Whilst the rubble strewn buildings across the town after months of coalition airstrikes and fighting can be somewhat rebuilt, the mental and emotional scarring as thousands of Yezidis were systemically killed, thousands of girls were raped and enslaved and thousands more had to flee from their ancient homes, will take much longer to heal.

The recapture of Sinjar means that the strategic route for IS between Raqqa in Syria and Mosul is effectively cut off.

But while this operation was long-time coming and should be rightly celebrated, jubilation should not let Kurds take their eyes off the bigger picture.

IS remains very much a threat across Iraq and Kurdistan still shares a large border and frontline with the militants. As the events since the summer of 2014 highlight, IS is not a force that can be easily defeated without sheer determination, patience and a broad alliance.

The battle for Sinjar and the greater battle against IS is not a distant battle and confined to borders of Iraq and Syria. The West was too slow to acknowledge the wider implications of the IS avalanche that first started in Syria and the problem is very much on their doorstep.

If the West needed any reminder of the terror on their doorstep, then the deadly shootings and bombings across Paris on Friday night, just hours after the liberation of Sinjar, is a stark reminder that the battle against IS that is spearhead by Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq is very much their problem and their battle.

The brazen attacks across the French capital that killed 127 people and injured over 100 were seemingly planned for months. The fear and terror was not limited to ordinary citizens as German and French football players, involved in a friendly in Stade de France, as well as French President Francois Hollande who was inside the stadium were yards away from the bombings.

Hollande held IS responsible for an ‘act of war’ and vowed to would wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism. The first national state of emergency in France since World War Two tells its own story.

Terror attacks in Paris come shortly after a Russian airliner was downed by a deadly bomb in Egypt highlighting the multi-continent angle of this battle.

Fighting terror on Western capitals is one thing but fighting terror at the root is another. Kurdish gains in Syria, ironically viewed with caution by Turkey, or the Kurdish gains in Iraq such that in Sinjar, are battles the Kurds are fighting on behalf of their population as well as the entire West.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

With strategic standing compromised by deepening crises, Kurdistan must look firmly forwards, not backwards

The political fallout in Kurdistan that has snowballed in recent weeks could not have come at a worse juncture for Kurdistan. The deep crises surrounding Kurdistan, including the bitter fight against Islamic State (IS), crippling fiscal constraints and a huge influx of refugee’s demands political unity. However, as the current government has struggled to make decisions such as the fate of the Kurdistan presidency and only added to the polarization in the region, unity has been hard to come by.

Kurdistan has long been divided by imperial forces, followed by successive regional forces and over the years the Kurds have been seemingly determined to stir their own divisions.

Tribal or partisan ties have been a key part of the socio-political landscape and regional affiliations across Kurdistan Region are clear to see. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has a historical bastion in Duhok and Erbil governorates whilst the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Change Movement (Gorran) have a strong base in the Sulaimaniya governorate.

This polarization around tribal and political loyalties makes the notion of a broad-based government that can make common decisions to appease both sides of the divide even more difficult. More importantly, in each bastion of support, people on the street are easily swayed by their political parties due to emotional ties.

These ties are clear to see in the recent violent protests. In any healthy democracy, protests or strikes are a natural phenomenon and the people have reason to be disgruntled over consistently delayed salaries. However, torching and attacking party offices is not acceptable in any democratic country but at the same time neither is harming of any protestors with excessive force.

The KDP blamed Gorran for orchestrating the protests, leading to the ousting of five Gorran MPs from government, including Kurdistan Parliament Speaker Yusuf Mohammed.

With Western powers monitoring the situation closely, the onus is on all parties to apply the right measures. Blame games and finger pointing aside, there must be urgent and fair investigations to identify the perpetrators of the attacks and lay clear who is to blame.

No MP should be barred from travelling freely. With political parties becoming entrenched in their territory of support, then this is how divisions solidify with allegiances on the ground becoming entrenched.

Parliament is a reflection of the electorate and the will of the people and as such parliament must be empowered to make key decisions with no MP immune from full accountability.

With growing prominence and strategic standing, Kurdistan should be looking firmly forwards. It is finally in control of its destiny and away from the shackles of the past where it could even attain elusive independence.

However, the recent political fallout and violent demonstrations will tarnish the image of Kurdistan abroad. More than ever, political parties must diffuse tensions and work towards unity.

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc

Lack of unity crippling the Kurdish hand amidst an unprecedented juncture

Protests across Kurdistan, some turning violent, over delayed salaries and the continued stalemate between the five main political parties over the presidency have compounded an already difficult situation gripping Kurdistan.

If the ongoing war with the Islamic State (IS), lack of budget payments from Baghdad, plummeting oil prices further constricting revenues and not forgetting the 1.3 million refugees already in Kurdistan were bad enough, the constant bickering between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Change Movement (Gorran), Kurdistan Islamic Union and the Kurdistan Islamic League and lack of a consensus on how to resolve the presidency issue after Massoud Barzani’s original extension expired on 20th August 2015 has made matters worse.

Two protestors were killed and a large number were wounded in Qaladize following strikes and demonstrations that merely added fuel to the fire.

Political unity and stability is needed to guide Kurdistan through the unprecedented crisis, yet unity has been tough to come by.

Finger pointing, animosity and continued wrangling has meant that consensus over the presidency issue has been almost impossible. Amidst the backdrop of increasing protests across the region came the ninth meeting between the political parties to resolve the presidency issue but was suspended as the parties yet again failed to reach a breakthrough.

As the political stalemate continues, there is no doubt that elements are stirring tensions on the streets. But there is only way to resolve this crisis and this is ultimately through parliament, dialogue and ultimately if required through the polls.

The onus and responsibility is on political parties to urge calm and ensure tensions on the streets do no quickly snowball into much bigger catastrophe. But above all, such parties must deal with the matter with the urgency that it deserves.

Thousands of Peshmerga are putting their lives on the line in a brutal war with IS and at a time of increasing strategic standing of the Kurdistan Region in the ever volatile Middle East, internal instability and lack of unity is backfiring.

At a sensitive juncture for Kurdistan, the only true friend of the Kurd is the Kurd himself. Do not expect Baghdad to come running to resolve the economic crisis or defend the region, whilst even Western interests will be always be through their narrow lens.

A polarized Kurdistan, crippled by a lack of money, lack of political unity and increasing violence on the streets will only weaken the Kurdish hand.

Even the consensus government, which at least in theory was a key milestone, was a misnomer. Every side criticizes the government and rival parties, yet ironically they all constitute as part of the same government.

There is a deeper desire to unearth gaps and flaws in each political party and settle scores than work together, which makes a mockery of any notion of a unity government.

The unique opportunity afforded by the rapid unravelling of the Middle Eastern landscape does not come often. Kurds have waited decades to escape repression and become a force in the Middle East after years of second class status.

Now the time has come to look at the bigger picture – unity is not just needed within the Kurdistan Region but across all of its parts.

How can Kurdistan ever seek great unity amongst its components or even outright independence if it cannot pull itself out of a crisis even at a time when many evils and problems are knocking on its door?

First Published: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc